I’m thankful for the teachers who shaped me into the person I am today. The impact these people had on my life cannot be overstated. Ms. Whimer (it’s been 30 years so I may have misspelled that) was my third grade teacher who pushed me to challenge myself. She was a wonderful teacher with a lot of patience and concern for our well-being. Mrs. Fontana, may she rest in peace, taught me in fourth and fifth grades. She more than anyone instilled in me a love of reading, and she as much as anyone is why I became a writer. The world is a worse place without her in it, and a full generation of students missed out on a wonderful teacher because she left us way too soon.
Mr. Thiessan was my Industrial Arts teacher in both seventh and eighth grades, and the best teacher I’ve ever encountered on any level. I owe that man more than I can express because he saw potential in me that no one else at that point in my life noticed. My family went through some very hard times during those two years, and without his guidance, commitment to standards, passion for knowledge, and dedication to his job, I might have fallen through the cracks. He sparked my creativity and allowed me to flourish on my own. I am certain that without him, I would not have the skills I have today.
Mrs. LaFever was both my freshman and senior English teacher. She was tough, demanding, overbearing, critical, sometimes mean, sometimes snide, but always passionate. She held us to the highest of standards and accepted nothing less than our best. I learned more about the English language from her than anyone else and am grateful for her unwavering commitment.
Dr. Armstrong and Ms. Kell were my biggest influences at WSCC. They pushed me to broaden my thinking and express my thoughts clearly. They pushed me out of the nest and forced me to spread my wings. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered my voice.
I had several excellent teachers at the University of Memphis, and I don’t want to leave any one individual out. As an undergraduate, I learned who I was and just how much I could accomplish. I grew and flourished more during those years than just about any other time in my life, and I am grateful to those educators for pushing me so hard and demanding so much from me.
Education is the skill of drawing out of individuals what they are capable of doing, and I am thankful that my life was touched so deeply by so many outstanding teachers. Too often, educators are not given thanks for their service to our country, so to all of the professional educators who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of others, thank you for all you’ve done for us.